Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Jarosz, Andrew F.

Committee Member

Allen, Laura

Committee Member

Karimi, Hossein

Committee Member

Moss, Jarrod

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


This body of work is composed of three individual papers that each seek to explain individual differences in creative cognition. Paper 1 used structural equation modeling to examine the ways in which creative problem solving and creative idea generation relate or differ. Results from Paper 1 demonstrate that divergent thinking and creative problem solving are best represented as a bifactor model, bearing distinct domain-specific factors, as well as a shared domain-general factor. Though working memory and fluency of memory retrieval explained significant portions of the domain-specific constructs, they only explained ~2% of variance in the domain-general factor. Paper 2 explores the idea that domain-general creativity can be attributed to the structure of one’s knowledge. Semantic networks were developed and compared across high and low general creativity, divergent thinking, creative problem solving, and working memory. Results indicated that, in general, a looser network structure is more amenable for flexible thought processes across multiple classifications of creative ability. Paper 3 explores the idea that domain-general creativity can be attributed to one’s ability to overcome salient, prepotent responses. More specifically, Paper 3 argues that the presence of ambiguities enhances the likelihood that someone will develop a faulty mental representation that requires restructuring in order to reach the desired solution or response. Results demonstrate that overcoming ambiguities in language comprehension draws on similar processes as creative problem solving: ambiguous language comprehension predicted creative problem solving above and beyond that of working memory, fluid intelligence, or normal sentence comprehension. Importantly, this relationship was unique to creative problem solving, as the effect disappeared when predicting analytic problem solving. Together, these studies suggest that the ability to overcome ambiguities and the organization of one’s semantic knowledge are both critical components underlying creativity. More generally, this work has highlighted the ways in which domain-specific and domain-general processes are unique or shared across different measures of creativity, and researchers should be aware of these relationships as they work to advance the creativity literature.